Malaysia is one of Asia's biggest employers of foreign labour. But recently, cases of deaths, abuse and forced labour have come to light. What is going on? Who is protecting these migrant workers?
TAIPING, March 22 (Bernama) — The government needs to enforce stricter conditions on the aspect of the labour force when approving new investments in the manufacturing sector, alongside work permits for the services sector, to curb the flood of foreign workers.
Sultan Perak Sultan Nazrin Shah said foreign investments in Malaysia must be approved based on the country’s interests and the jobs offered should open up opportunities for locals.
“It will not benefit the country if the jobs on offer requires the government to approve the intake of more foreign workers,” he added, when officiating the Advanced Technology Training Centre (ADTEC) here today.
ADTEC Taiping is among the 32 institutes run by the Manpower Department and offers seven full time diploma courses, including Mechatronics Engineering Technology and Quality Control Engineering Technology.
Sultan Nazrin said based on the Home Affairs Ministry data, the number of social visit work passes issued to foreigners increased from 2.073 million in 2014 to 2.135 million last year.
“The number of illegal foreign workers is said to be at least double those with work passes. If this assumption is correct, it means that at present, there are more than four million foreign workers in Malaysia,” he added.
Sultan Nazrin said last year, foreign workers remitted money amounting to RM34.7 billion to their home countries through official channels and this is the same as 2.37 per cent of Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product.
“It is estimated that the actual amount is much higher as part of the remittance is also being undertaken via non-official channels,” he added.
Sultan Nazrin also called for stricter conditions to be imposed on employers to discourage them from seeking the easy way to secure foreign workers, to the point where it causes the people and the country to eventually bear a high cost.
“Getting work passes for foreigners seems to be easy path and an option for employers wanting short term profits without considering the various long term negative implications,” he added.
Sultan Nazrin also praised the government’s decision to halt the intake of new foreign workers immediately and urged employers to not be quick in labelling the local workforce as being reluctant to undertake work in the 3D category of “Dirty, Dangerous and Demeaning”.
He said while this view may have some basis, it needs to be tackled through a more comprehensive approach, including the provision of attractive incentives, apart from introducing technology which can minimise human labour.
“In the long term interest of the nation, a more strategic approach must be explored to minimise labour that is too dependent on foreigners.
“The people must also assist and take responsibility to correct the situation, with the country now becoming too dependent on foreign labour,” Sultan Nazrin added.
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